A former South Carolina House majority leader has said he will resign from the chamber, spurring speculation he’s about to plead guilty to corruption charges.
State Rep. Jim Merrill, R-Daniel Island, submitted a resignation letter to the House Speaker’s office on Thursday. The letter stated Merrill will officially resign at 10 a.m. Friday, shortly before he is due in a Richland County courtroom for a hearing in his ongoing criminal case.
Merrill was indicted last year on two misconduct in office charges and dozens of ethics violations. The accusations center around Merrill’s private firms, which lead investigator First Circuit Solicitor David Pascoe said were used to receive $1.3 million in payments since 2002 from groups lobbying at the Statehouse. Some of the charges deal with Merrill not reporting the money on his campaign finance documents. He has previously insisted the payments were legal and dealt with services his firms provided to those groups.
Neither Merrill or his attorney State Rep. Leon Stavrinakis, D-Charleston, wished to comment on the hearing. Prosecutors are also mum about what will happen Friday.
The lawmaker has been suspended from the House ever since his indictment last December. He has represented southern Berkeley County in the House since 2001 and served as the House Republican Caucus leader from 2004 until 2006. He also led the state campaign for then-candidate Donald Trump last year.